Auto ISO .. Nikon or Canon

Of course one of the most irritating things with Canon cameras is the way they set their auto ISO speed which is something you use all the time .. In Nikon it is the logical choice .. auto ISO tries to get a shutter speed >= 1/focal length with a pre-set minimum .. so if I use a 200mm it is 1/200+ .. if I set the minimum as 1/60sec and I use a 16mm lens then it won’t drop below 1/60 to 1/20 for example .. in Canon it is not the case .. they use an obscure algorithm and so it is very random and has no relation to the focal length you are using which is absolutely crazy and goes against all photography rules .. but Canon users have got used to living with it by setting a maximum and minimum ISO and minimum shutter .. this obviously is not good because if I set a minimum 1/60 for a 70-200mm lens I may end up with 1/60 at 200mm because the camera thinks so ..


Something else Nikon does well with auto ISO is that it sets Auto ISO to be up to 2 stops either quicker or slower than the focal length .. i.e. if you have VR and want a slower shutter speed than 1/FL you can have 1/100 @ 200mm or the opposite 1/400 or 1/1000 at 200mm if you are shooting something moving .. this doesn’t exist in Canon .. you have no control over what Auto ISO is at all and that is a major flaw that people keep moaning about all the time ..


The third thing is that inspite of Auto ISO .. if you are in A or S modes you can still vary the other variable i.e. A in S or S in A just by turning the main dial to vary the ISO without having to press any ISO buttons as well .. so it is the opposite variable on the opposite dial always .. and that is very useful and quick because you don’t have to take your eyes off your target you just turn one of the dials and hey presto the other variable changes .. so if I am at f4 and the speed according to Auto ISO is 1/200 and I want it to be 1/1000 I just turn the dial and I have high speed .. this is not in Canon either .. so Nikon cameras have better practical controls that you use all the time .. they are extremely user friendly once you go deeper than the shell or the skin as they say ..


Also, if you use Manual Aperture and Shutter then Auto ISO sets in to keep the exposure right for the set A/S .. i.e. if it becomes cloudy or sunny during the shoot yet I want all the pictures to be f4 and 1/60 then the ISO varies to keep the exposure right for these settings as much as possible .. of course if you set it in cloudy weather and becomes suddenly sunny or the opposite then you will have to change your basic settings .. but it is important if you are shooting a group of photos and want them all to have the same DOF and speed for the same look and effect .. Canon does not do that in Manual .. in manual you have to set your ISO as well .. So whether 6D, 5D or 1Dx they are all the same irritating settings .. baseline I would like to have a Nikon camera with a Canon L lens ??

Tilt-Shift (TS) or Perspective-Control (PC) lenses

I am currently researching these lenses to add a new perspective to my portfolio (forgive the pun).

The reason I am interested in them is multifactorial .. I originally thought about them exclusively as architectural lenses, used to produce straight parallel lines, which is of course true. But then I realised they have so many other uses and will therefore rent one to try out, before I actually make a plunge and buy one.

Uses as I understand them, and please correct me;

1. Controlling perspective
2. Controlling DOF; sharp focus across the image, while still using a wide or average aperture to avoid diffraction
3. Controlling DOF; selective focusing reduced to a small area, thus producing a miniature effect or pleasant BOKEH
4. Ability to shoot panoramas easily for later stitching in software

For these effects I decided to try out the Nikon PC-E 24mm f3.5 lens. Some but not all the effects can be reproduced in software, but not always very convincingly natural.

Philosophy of Lenses for Amateurs

Amateurs get a raw deal when it comes to lenses .. There are the professional built-like-a-tank big, heavy and terribly expensive lenses .. and there are the cheap consumer lenses .. In-between, most lens manufacturers make some amateur lenses .. So amateur lenses are probably double the price of consumer ones, and are better built in that they are weather sealed, have full-time manual focusing, silent ultrasonic wave motors and metal mounts.

Beyond that .. Amateurs have to think of the range .. a wide angle, a standard zoom and a tele-zoom, plus a macro lens.

In full-frame an example would be the Canon 17-40 f/4 L, 24-105 f/4 IS L and 70-200 f/4 IS L. In Nikon the equivalents would be the AF-S 16-35 f/4 VR, 24-120 f/4 VR and 70-200 f/4 VR or 80-200mm ED. I would also add a 50mm f1.8 of sorts and a 100mm f2.8 macro ..

To me the main and most important lens is the walk-about 24-105/120 lens, which I use 80% of the time .. I do cityscapes, landscapes, still life and portraits.

Those who do sports, racing, or wild-life may find this setup very short or slow for them .. I envy those photographers who do only one type of photography .. like a macro hobbyist only needs a 100mm f2.8 macro .. !!

Amateur Photographers

The idea that amateurs do not need or deserve good cameras and lenses is not true.. The only difference between amateurs and pros is that the latter make a living out of photography, while the former produce artistic work without depending on photography to make a living. So amateurs are free to photograph what they like when they like and how they like .. As they do not do that 24/7, the lenses and bodies do not need to be built like tanks to take a beating .. but they still need decent quality to make good photos

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Ernest Hemingway

Calibrating lens to camera

Is this really a useful thing to do .. ??

Both Canon and Nikon have this facility in their higher end bodies under different names; AF Microadjustment in Canon and AF Fine-Tune in Nikon.

If pictures from your camera, lens or combination are lacking proper focus, it may be that camera, lens, or both are causing front or back focusing.

Common sense dictates making sure that any focusing problems are investigated to make sure that it is well and truly a problem that requires at least fine tuning, or if more serious sending the camera or lens back for servicing or exchange.

Rumours about quality control for cameras and lenses indicate they would pass the test as long as any focusing variations fall within the depth of field at a given focal length, aperture and focal distance.

All said .. if you find that your lens is either front or back focusing enough at a given focal length, aperture and distance (usually longest focal length in zoom, wide open, and at the minimal focusing distance as DOF is shallowest) then fine-tuning or micro-adjustment is going to be helpful.

From several resources on the internet I gathered the following, and others may differ;
1- Calibrate a zoom using the longest focal length (the tele end of the zoom range)
2- Use the maximum aperture (wide open)
3- Use 25-50x focal length in mm as testing distance between camera and target
4- Use tripod, mirror-up and remote shutter release
5- If you print your own target sheet, do it on inkjet and not laser
6- Do 3 shots per adjustment
7- Do +/- adjustments and keep doing this until you narrow down your adjustment
8- Use JPEG’s or RAW without any adjustments
9- Use a standard target (DataColor© SpyderLensCal© or Michael Tapes Design© LensAlign©)
10- Use computer software (Michael Tapes Design© FocusTune© or Reikan© FoCal©) to decide the best adjustment value
11- Target chart should be contrasty, well illuminated and dead square and parallel to the camera/sensor
12- Set focus to central point and single autofocus after manually focusing at the centre of the target
13- Between shots, set the lens focus to infinity
14- Set image stabilisation off
15- Set ISO to lowest possible for best results

Remember that only one sample of a certain lens can be registered in the camera at any one time, and that the adjustment is saved in the camera. Also, if all the lenses register the same result, it is probably the camera body that needs to be adjusted for all the lenses.

I have to say that I have not tried this complete setup myself yet .. but tried the cheap way .. using a printed focus target sheet on a wall and also tried it on a floor or table with camera at 45 degrees, and I failed on both occasions to achieve a result that would produce better focused and sharper photos in real life after the calibration. I went out with my camera and shot handheld and on tripod real life shots with and without calibration and I have to say I have not seen an improvement .. so maybe the cheap way is not valid or reliable and maybe the more methodical way stated above would be more useful .. I would certainly be interested in hearing from regular photographers who have done that and noticed an improvement .. So please let me know your experiences before I go out to buy all this kit!!

Here are some internet resources ..

Soft Proofing

Soft proofing is the last process before finally printing your photos.

I never did that until I came across those out of gamut warnings in Photoshop, which resulted in odd effects on printing.

My research led me to soft proofing, which is available now in Lightroom 4 Develop module. Soft proofing allows us to see what is out of gamut in the particular printer profile. Treating the out of gamut areas or colours by changing the exposure, saturation or hue, we are left with what we are sure we will get printed, rather than leaving it to the printer software in what would be a hit and miss process. is a link to Adobe site about this topic.

Have you calibrated ?

Calibration and colour management are very critical to all photographic activities, from the second you take your photo, to the time you process it and display or share it either in print or digital form.

Most people are not initially aware of colour management, until the picture in the camera doesn’t match the scene, the picture on the computer screen doesn’t match the camera, or the print doesn’t match what they see in either or both.

The least that can be done by any photographer is to have a monitor calibration device that calibrates the colours, brightness and contrast of their computer display. In this way they are at least sure that what they see on the screen will be matched by professional prints, and by any calibrated display.

To get the right colour from the scene requires either shooting a test shot at the scene using ideally a photographic grey card, or at least a white sheet of paper, and maybe a colour chart. This calibrates the camera at the scene or works in post-processing for RAW files.

The last bit is calibrating the printer, as the colour profiles change with change of paper and ink, and the generic manufacturer profiles don’t usually do a very accurate job. The spectrophotometers for scanning prints are not as cheap as the display ones, but once a colour profile is produced for the printer/ink/paper combination the result should match either the original scene or at least what has been captured in JPEG or RAW, before or after computer processing.

So have you calibrated your workflow yet ?